“Attitude is more important than qualification or experience”
Xero Australia – managing director – Trent Innes has revealed his secret “coffee cup” job interview test.
Speaking to The Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios, the local head of the $8.5 billion ASX-listed accounting software firm said he refuses to hire anyone who doesn’t offer to take their coffee cup back to the kitchen after a job interview with him.
Innes said it was a simple tactic to ensure the potential employee fits the Kiwi company’s culture of ownership and showed the most valuable asset of all — a good attitude.
“I’m probably giving away all my dark secrets here now,” Innes said.
“But if you do come in and have an interview, as soon as you come in and you do meet me, I will always take you for a walk down to one of our kitchens and somehow you always end up walking away with a drink — whether it be a glass of water, a coffee, or a cup of tea, or even a soft drink.
“And then we take that back, have our interview, and one of the things I’m always looking for at the end of the interview is, does the person doing the interview want to take that empty cup back to the kitchen?”
Innes explained how he devised the test.
“What I was trying to find was the lowest level task I could find that — regardless of what you did inside the organisation — was still super important — that would actually really drive a culture of ownership,” he said.
“If you come into the office once one day inside Xero, you’ll definitely see the kitchens are almost always clean and sparkling — it’s very much of that concept of wash your coffee cup, and that sort of led into the interview space.
“You really want to make sure that you’ve got people who’ve got a real sense of ownership, and that’s really what I was looking for.
“Attitude and ownership scale, especially in a really fast growing environment like we’ve been going through and still at this stage as well.
“It’s really just making sure that they’re going to fit into the culture inside Xero, and really take on everything that they should be doing. It’s really served us really well as the business has scaled and grown. We’ve managed to maintain the value and purpose and culture that makes us special.
“Hiring for attitude is probably the most important thing I believe when you’re hiring people, especially in a fast growth company or a start-up environment or scale up environment — you need people with a really strong growth mindset and that comes back to their attitude.”
‘You can develop skills, you can gain knowledge and experience but it really does come down to attitude, and the attitude that we talk a lot about is the concept of “wash your own coffee cup”.’
If you can’t find new talent externally, consider using reskilling to build your new employees in-house.
“Adaption is better than specializes in one skill”
It doesn’t matter how talented your new hires are, or what stellar technology training they’ve received. Chances are within a few years those skills will be obsolete.
Technology evolves so quickly that it is no longer enough to hire for the skills needed today. To stay relevant, companies need to hire people who have the ability to constantly learn new skills that may not yet exist.
This focus on reskilling as a talent management strategy is already taking place, said Art Mazor, principal of Deloitte’s human capital management consulting practice, in Atlanta. “Most big companies today are focused on reskilling, and for good reason: The half-life of skills is two to five years,” he said. “That has huge implications for recruiting.”
With demand for talent at an all-time high, companies can’t expect to pluck these skills ready-made from the talent pool. They will have to create them in-house by providing employees with constant access to training, and incentives to continuously reskill.
Research from McKinsey found 82 percent of executives at large organizations believe retraining and reskilling must be at least half of the answer to addressing their skills gap, with 27 percent calling it a top five priority. And 74 percent of global recruiting firms say reskilling workers represents an effective strategy to combat the perennial skills shortage, according to Bullhorn’s 2019 “Staffing and Recruiting Trends” report.
“Reskilling is an important solution to the talent shortage,” said Vinda Souza, vice president of marketing for Bullhorn. She said that as long as there is low unemployment, companies need to consider what training they can provide to new and existing talent to constantly close new skill gaps.
To reskill someone, look for people with “adjacent skills,” said Jesper Bendtsen, head of recruiting for Thomson Reuters in Toronto. “Don’t just look for people who know blockchain or AI,” he said. “Look for people who work with related technologies that will lend themselves to your future needs.”
That talent pool may already be on staff. Bendtsen noted that employees who have been with the company for years may not have the exact skills you are looking for, but they know your culture, your customers and your way of doing business. “Start by looking internally at who might be interested and able to transition to a new role through retraining,” he said. An internal upskilling program can help companies close talent gaps while reinforcing their commitment to the existing workforce.
When recruiting externally, companies need to consider what skills they are looking for and how that impacts the recruiting process. New hires need to be willing and able to learn new skills and to tackle nebulous workplace challenges. Identifying these skills requires more thoughtful assessments of candidates’ soft skills and personality, not just their past history, Mazor said.
Some organizations are adding virtual reality, automated simulations and gaming tools to the recruiting process to observe how candidates handle unknown situations and learn new information to solve problems.
“These tools test their predisposition for handling challenges while creating a compelling candidate experience,” Mazor said.
Companies are also integrating hiring managers into this assessment process. At Thomson Reuters, for example, software engineers oversee candidates as they complete coding challenges, while asking questions about their process.
“The goal isn’t to see if they get the right answers, but to see how they tackle problems and use information,” Bendtsen said. “It’s an objective way to assess a candidate’s skills and ability to learn.”
This new approach to recruiting could make it easier for companies to look further afield for candidates who show an aptitude and interest in learning, even if they don’t follow a traditional academic or career path, said Tara Cassady, senior vice president at Cielo, a global recruitment process outsourcing provider in Milwaukee. “You want people who are curious, have an aptitude to troubleshoot, and who use technology to solve problems,” she said. These lifelong learners could just as easily come from tech schools, boot camps and online universities as from traditional college campuses.
Once they do find or retain these candidates, they are also investing more effort into retaining them, she said. From ensuring that interns have a clear path to employment, to making sure newly trained talent are given new assignments and competitive salaries, engagement and retention must be part of the reskilling trend, she said. “If you are going to invest in training talent, you don’t want to lose them to a competing firm.”
Human resource management is an important functional activity that has a great impact on the success or failure of businesses, especially start-up businesses.
However, start-up businesses with limited resources, especially the limitation of financial resources, are not really interested in human resource management
In this article, the author will discuss some important issues that entrepreneurs should be noted during the start-up period.
1. Human resource management based on personal experience and subjectivity
In the early start-up years, business owners often focus on technology and market. Business owners in the start-up phase must simultaneously take care of multiple tasks from strategic issues to technology, market, finance, accounting, personnel, etc.
This process suitable for the requirements of fast, flexible, low-cost, appropriate handling of problems with organizational structure and uncompleted personnel.
But in return, in the start-up phase, the enterprise management capacity of the business owner is considered as a too tight shirt compared with the goal and development ambition of the business owner himself. Therefore, a lot of business problems arise and it’s hard to breakthrough or have a systematic solution because business owners face difficulties in making decisions.
The most remarkable thing here is that very few business owner recognize the limitations of them-self and take action to solve it like learning, hiring expert, etc.
If the business owner overcomes himself to learning and has a reasonable solution to complement his own limitations on human resource management, the success probability of the business will be much higher. Because after all, all the causes of business failure also come from the lack of qualified personnel to run and drive businesses with lead to unadaptable to market changes.
2. Unclear in roles and weak in manage conflicts between co-founders
Many people choose to start a business together. Group start-ups help business owners deploy ideas, promote each other’s strengths, mobilize resources and share risks. According to “Startup Insider”, most successful private enterprises have a starting point from a start-up group.
But everything has the other side of the coin. Risk comes from conflicts between co-founders because of differences in views, disputes about benefits and failure to manage changes in decision-making methods appropriate to development period.
In the beginning, when things were difficult, co-founders were quite united and bite the bullet together; but when the business is prosperous, having good financial results is also the time when conflicts arise. Many co-founders have to part ways in the early years because of personal conflict in executive management.
This problem comes from the basic reason is that the management system is not running well. Co-founders not assigned roles and clear agreement with each other to management. The management process does not change from “instinct” to the “system”.
This issue requires co-founders to agree with each other right from the beginning days when starting a business about management method to prepare for future periods. Because when businesses go into orbit, the company needs to have a leader who has ability and capable of making decisions.
3. Lack of solutions to retain talents
The reason usually given is that the start-up period is lack of resources, especially with finance, so it’s difficult to attract talents. Therefore, enterprises tend to hire and use manpower with low salary, and with capacity sometimes not meet the requirements.
This is a big mistake for ambitious start-ups want to have fast growth due to innovation, and want to attract investors.
Attracting talents is one key point for a successful start-up. There are two elements that impact the ability to attract talents:
Owner do not have capacity to use talents:
When working with an expert employee, owner easily loses their vision and cannot control the talent. Moreover, lack of HR management skill can also make personnel to discouraged with their job and soon will lead to giving up.
The attractiveness of the start-up idea:
When the start-up idea is clear and has a high potential to succeed, this is the key to attract talents. In opposite, if you are not sure about your vision and future, candidates will feel not stable and hard to attract talents to become your companion.
There are diversity solutions for this issue, most start-up use company’s stock to attract talent employee to join them in running business. With creative or technology start-up, the company’s value after 5 years may multiply a thousand or million times the present value.
Another regular solution is to hire or collaboration with experts. This will help start-up to use the expert skills and knowledge with a very low fee. Vision and passion of startups also receive assistance and support from experts.
4. Lack of invest in system and building corporate culture
Due to the size of small businesses, many businesses do not focus on recruiting specialized personnel to manage human resources; as well as lack of attention to standardization of processes and human resource management systems.
Inadequately focused activities include recruitment, assessment regulations, application of KPI systems, wages and benefits, labour regulations and corporate culture … Due to lack of systematic, works are handled much according to the affair and affection.
In particular, common problems arise in terms of employment contracts, job vacancies, intellectual property violations, loss of business secrets due to employee quit. On the other hand, company culture is also a strong weapon to keep talents by your side.
5. Loss the control of the business due to lack of understanding of corporate governance
Enterprises in the start-up period have a large growth and high investment demand. The main capital mobilization solution of enterprises in the start-up phase is by calls for funding to increase capital and expand owners.
However, many business owners refuse to develop and accept strategic investors because of the risk of losing control of the business. In contrast, many business owners chose wrong strategic investors, so they quickly have to transfer control of their own business, losing their “spiritual children”.
The solution is that business owners need to consult from legal, human resource experts, and study about corporate governance.
There are many possible solutions. First of all, you need to choose the right investor.
The right strategic investor often does not require control of business management because they respect the holder of the business idea and believe that only when this person continues to run the business than the business can succeed.
And finally, there are many forms of investment contracts to attract more shareholders to contribute to capital. Shareholders enjoy preferential dividends, but still, can maintain voting and veto rights.
Nowadays, people are wrapped up in work too much that they forgot “you are more than your job”.
Looking for a new job but having zero luck getting hired can be, put it lightly, incredibly demoralizing.
As it turns out, “the data supports the conventional wisdom,” said Dan Witters, a principal and research director at the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index.
While research shows that people experience an increased sense of well-being just after losing their jobs, that trend reverses if they’re still hunting after 10 to 12 weeks. On top of the obvious financial stress that comes with being unemployed or underemployed, these groups also suffer from worse physical health, with rates of depression rising among the unemployed the longer they go without finding work.
The solution to job-search depression isn’t as easy as hitting the pavement and sending out more résumés. Even strong candidates aren’t guaranteed success, creating “this constant uncertainty of not knowing when the job search will end,” said Michelle Maidenberg, an adjunct graduate professor of cognitive behavioural therapy and human behaviour at the Silver School of Social Work at N.Y.U. with a private practice in Harrison, N.Y.
Dealing emotionally with this sort of adversity is a skill few of us have been taught, and it requires building new habits in our personal lives.
If it feels as if your well-being is on hold while you focus on bigger things — like a job hunt — consider this: The emotional and mental health outcomes of unemployment can create “a feedback mechanism where the longer you go, the harder it is on your emotional health,” Mr. Witters said. “The worse your emotional health is, the harder it is to find a job.”
Whether you’re suffering from job-search depression or happily employed, learning the coping mechanisms needed to deal with things like uncertainty and loss of control will always come in handy, Dr. Maidenberg said.
1. You are more than your career
“So much of who we are is wrapped up in work, but you are more than your job,” said Alison Doyle, a job search expert at the Balance Careers, part of the Balance family of sites, which offer advice on such topics as personal finance, careers and small business.
When people imagine job-search depression, they often attribute it to financial instability and frequent rejection, but it turns out that “identity is a much bigger piece of the puzzle than people had previously thought,” said Dawn R. Norris, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the author of “Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health.”
“In fact, many of the people in my study said it was the most important thing to them, even beyond financial problems,” she said. Those who listed financial concerns as their top source of stress often cited a perceived loss of identity as a close second.
The perception that we are our work is a major reason the job search, and receiving constant messages that we aren’t who we think we are, is so distressing.
“If your identity is threatened, you need an identity-based solution,” Dr. Norris said.
The solution: Recognize that your personality is made up of a diverse range of experiences, interests and values — not just your employment status — and “have other areas in your life that you can lean on as a source of joy and confidence.” This is pivotal to coping with job loss, Dr. Maidenberg said.
2. Treat job hunting like a job
Besides the loss of income and identity that can come with being out of work, there’s also the loss of day-to-day structure. Sending out emails while wearing sweatpants on the sofa might seem like a fantasy to some, but after a while, the loss of scheduled time can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and disconnection, Dr. Norris said.
The solution: Create structure for yourself, both inside the job hunt and out. Setting strict office hours can help keep the search from bleeding into every area of your life, with deadlines pushing you to work more efficiently. Simple rules, like a “No LinkedIn after 6 p.m.” policy, or a mandatory lunch hour, will give you the space to focus on other interests and relationships and mentally recharge.
The stress of a job search can also make people feel as if they don’t deserve down time, but working overtime and pushing to the point of burnout will only exacerbate feelings of isolation and negativity. This can have an impact on both your mental health and your job prospects, Mr. Witters said.
“It’s a feedback mechanism where the longer you go, the harder it is on your emotional health,” he said. “The worse your emotional health is, the harder” it can be to successfully chase down job leads and dazzle interviewers.
3. Set yourself up for some wins
Mr. Witters said research showed that setting and reaching goals had a strong inverse relationship to depression.
“If you’re out of a job, one of your goals is going to be to find one,” he said. “That is a goal that is going unrealized.”
The solution: Whether you plan to send out a certain number of cover letters, or accomplish something that’s totally unrelated to your job search, try to “do a few things outside your comfort zone that are still achievable,” Ms. Doyle said. Doing so, she added, can make you “feel much better about yourself.”
Avoiding the temptation to set overambitious goals is especially important, she said, since failing to accomplish them will negatively affect your well-being and can even slow your overall progress.
While it might feel hard to appreciate smaller successes, especially if they seem mundane or aren’t directly connected to the job hunt, the power of small wins means these moments can have a major impact on our mental and emotional health.
4. Learn new skills
The stress of the job hunt can make it easy to miss out on the benefit of unemployment: more free time.
The solution: “Look at the time in a way as a gift,” said Ms. Doyle, who recommended volunteering or taking free online classes.
Though using your free time to pursue new hobbies and skills “tends to bite the dust when you’re focused on finding a job,” Mr. Witters said, “there is a good inverse corollary to depression and learning new and interesting things.”
This can also be an opportunity to explore hobbies that you were too busy to nurture and probably won’t have time for once you land a job, Dr. Maidenberg said. Trying out new things and discovering other talents and interests can help us strengthen our identities and enjoy new sources of fulfilment.
If you’re interested in pursuing activities that relate to your professional skills, keeping your résumé up-to-date isn’t the only benefit, Dr. Norris said. “Depending on what aspect of your identity is threatened, finding something to do that’s similar enough” — a former manager could coach children’s sports, for instance; a laid-off E.M.T. might take a public safety course — can help reinforce the feeling that you are still the same person you were before, she said.
5. Stay social
One of the best ways to take a mental break from the job search, and to reaffirm the parts of your identity that don’t have anything to do with your career, is to spend time with family and friends, Dr. Maidenberg said. It’s also a good way to combat the isolation that many job seekers face.
Putting yourself out there isn’t always easy, especially given that there’s “definitely a stigma” around unemployment, Dr. Maidenberg said. Research shows that the long-term unemployed spend less time with family and friends, and embarrassment can contribute to people avoiding social interactions, Mr. Witters said.
If you’re finding it hard to socialize, start small, Dr. Norris said. Online communities and support groups are good places to start, as are clubs and networking events in your area. Just asking a friend to join you for coffee can help.
If you’re having a hard time prioritizing your health during your job search, go one step further and ask a loved one to act as your accountability partner, Mr. Witters suggested.
“Having someone who’s encouraging you to pursue a healthy lifestyle and to be a better version of yourself,” he said, “helps alleviate the sense of loneliness and isolation and pessimism and despair that can come from prolonged unemployment.”
And if people ask what you do for a living?
“It’s fine to say, ‘I’m looking for my next opportunity,’” Ms. Doyle said. “The average person changes jobs nearly 12 times in their career, and not all of those changes are voluntary.” She added that “almost everyone’s lost a job, and people love to help people.”
Most importantly, she said: “Don’t feel bad that you’re unemployed, even if it’s your fault. It can happen to the best of us. You are not alone.”